(49) The Literary South from the End of the Civil War to the Southern Renaissance.
(E. Glasgow, W. Faulkner, E. Caldwell, R. P. Warren, and the Fugitives-Agrarians).
S o u t h e r n R e n a i s s a n c e ( 1 9 t h / 2 0 t h c . )
- the nation’s lit. centre shifts from the East to the Midwest and South at the turn of the c.
- incl. W. Faulkner, R. P. Warren, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor
E l l e n G l a s g o w ( 1 8 7 4 – 1 9 4 5 )
L i f e :
- b. in an aristocratic Southern family in VA > her own experience of the rural agricultural life
- anticipated the growth of the Southern Renaissance
W o r k :
(a) the South and its changes
(b) the struggle for survival
(c) the women aware of the necessity of a detached stoicism despite the pain they have to bear
(d) a recurrent motif of F protagonists’ unfulfilled emotional lives
=> her lit. development = the cultural development of the South in a condensed form: sentimentalism about the old lost values >> critical realism, irony, and satire on the nostalgia for the slave-holding plantation life
The Voice of the People (1900): an early novel about a family plantation life and a woman’s emotional unfulfilment
The Battle Ground (1902): a novel still in a romantic vein about a suffering of the Civil War non-combatants rather than that of the soldiers in the battle
The Deliverance (1904):
- a mature novel about the struggle for the political power btw the once slave-holding aristocracy x the newly rich after the Civil War
One Man in His Time (1922):
- a masterpiece about a politician of modest means making his way to the office of the governor of the state only to be shot by his opponents
Barren Ground (1925):
- a masterpiece about a woman struggling for the further existence of her farm
The Romantic Comedians (1926), They Stooped to Folly (1929), and The Sheltered Life (1932): novels of a narrower scope exposing the folly of the Southern sentimentalists refusing to accept their inevitable defeat and the change of social order
Vein of Iron (1935) and In This Our Life (1941): family chronicles; the latter won her the Pulitzer prize
The Woman Within (1954, posthum.): her autobiog.
W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r
[see F. under ‘44 Modernist Experiments in Fiction’]
E r s k i n e C a l d w e l l ( 1 9 0 3 – 8 7 )
L i f e :
- b. in GA x but: left to ME > a detachment enabling him to write about the Am. South objectively
- travelled the South with his father-missionary priest, and experienced a variety of odd jobs during the Great Depression > a direct knowledge of people
- worked as a reporter in the Rus. war: a political leftist
W o r k :
- reports: war reports and a series of reports about the conditions of the working and unemployed to appeal to the public and force it to social awareness
- novels: use of naturalistic methods, the comic, and the grotesque
- a subject to a heated discussion, frequent charges for obscenity, and very good selling figures
Tobacco Road (1932), God’s Little Acre (1933), and Tragic Ground (1944):
- a loose trilogy
ad Tobacco Road:
- a social novel (the underlying motif of hunger) and a grotesque comedy (the scene of Jeeter’s stealing his son-in-law’s beet)
- conc.: the mental and moral decay accompanying poverty
- form: flashbacks (troubles with Pearl, history of J.’s decline into poverty, etc.), recurrent motif patterns (Dude’s obsession with the car horn), and recurrent phrases (J.’s monologues of complaint)
- uses a colloquial language
- accompanies the mental defects symbolically also with physical defects (Bessie and Ellie May)
- an ironic concl.: J. moves from empty talking to acting (burns the weed on his land) x but: dies in a fire in his house together with his wife (J.’s ironical conc. about his death in terms of not to be eaten by rats as his father was, and A.’s conc. about her wearing a fashionable dress in her coffin)
- dramatised a y. after the publ. of the novel
R o b e r t P e n n W a r r e n ( 1 9 0 5 – 8 9 )
L i f e :
- spent his boyhood in the South, on his grandfather’s tobacco farm, and with his memories of the Civil War (fought for the Confederate cause) > a sense of history of the Am. South
- met John Crowe Ransom: got involved him the Fugitives-Agrarians – co-authored I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930) and Understanding Poetry (1938)
- met Cleanth Brooks and Charles W. Pipkin: co-founded The Southern Review (1935 – 42) = the most influential lit. quarterly publ. interpretative essays by the ‘New Critics’ (John Crowe Ransom, Kenneth Burke, & oth.), and the best fiction by the emerging South. Writers (Eudora Welty)
W o r k :
- frequently uses violent subjects with a historical and psychological resonance
P o e t r y :
- often expresses his love twd the physical world, and his passion twd the knowledge of truth
(a) early poetry: < J. C. Ransom’s formal control, and his elegant, well-mannered rationality
(b) mature poetry: loosens up his poetic line to move with new vigour, raw energy, and rhythm
Audubon: A Vision (1969):
- a book-length poem
- presents his own version of the historical figure and creates an heroic selfhood at the centre of poetry
- John James Audubon (1785 - 1851), an ornithologist and painter, artist and scientist, solitary searcher and classifier consumed by his task: encounters violence, and narrowly escapes being robbed and murdered => must reconcile in himself the need for both passion and reverence twd existence
After the Dinner Party and The Birth of Love: moving love poems
Now and Then: Poems 1976 - 1978 (1978): the symbol of his central conc. = the struggle of memory to overcome the passage of time and make then into now
P r o s e :
John Brown: The Making of a Martyr (1919): the danger of blind idealism
All the King’s Men (1946):
- orig. conceived as a verse play x but: became a novel
- the rise and fall of a southern depression governor and demagogue: leads a regime both corrupt x progressive in its social policies
- won him the Pulitzer Prize
World Enough and Time (1950): a study of / a response to the history of the South
F u g i t i v e s = A g r a r i a n s = N e w C r i t i c s ( c a 1 9 2 0 s – 3 0 s )
- a group of faculty members of Vanderbild Uni in Nashville (TN), and ‘bookish, intelligent young businessmen’ centred about the Southern lit. magazine The Fugitive (1922 – 25)
- discussed lit. and philos., and wrote poetry and criticism examining the questions of modern poetic identity and the relationship of lit. x historical and social responsibility
- orig. largely a poetry club >> later responded to the South corrupted by industrialism, materialism, and collectivism by a reactionary programme
- incl. R. P. Warren, A. Tate, J. C. Ransom, D. Davidson, and C. Brooks
I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930):
- a political manifesto of the ‘twelve Southerners’, orig. should have been entitled Tracts against Communism
- a coll. of essays conveying the vision of an agrarian South with strong local cultures and conservative regionalism = the only human alternative to an increasingly self-destructive industrialism of the North
- disapproved industrialism and science x emphasised individualism
Understanding Poetry (1938):
- a poetry textbook by R. P. Warren and C. Brooks
- a school anthology and text introd. the ‘close reading’ on New Critical principles, orig. intended for the E faculty at LA State Uni
- conceived the modernist poetry as an independent unit connected with the rest of the world wrt to its development and content x but: capable of being isolated for the sake of an objective lit. analysis
The New Criticism (1941):
- a coll. of essays by J. C. Ransom
- the title: became the name for the new era of lit. discourse developing the modernist heritage of T. S. Eliot, E. A. Poe, and H. James
Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.
McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.
Flajšar, Jiří. Semináře: Americká literatura 2. ZS 2004/05.